If you have a compassionate bone in your body, you’re feeling sorry for the Bears these days.
They played Oct. 6 in London and were treated rudely by the Raiders. Their best defensive lineman, Akiem Hicks, injured his elbow in the game, and it looks as though he’ll be out awhile.
After the loss, they had a bye week to ponder how a potential Super Bowl team could have gotten off to a 3-2 start. While they were doing that, they came to the realization that three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Kyle Long had to go on injured reserve because of a hip injury. His season is over.
The Saints, their next opponent, are a surprising 5-1 — surprising because star quarterback Drew Brees has missed the last four games, all victories, with a thumb injury on his throwing hand. His replacement, Teddy Bridgewater, has been very good.
The worst part for the Bears? The worst part is that none of this is the worst part.
In a tweet Sunday, Pope Francis honored five saints who had been canonized that morning during a ceremony at the Vatican. Because the pope, with 18 million Twitter followers, is social-media-savvy, he added a hashtag before the word ‘‘saints.’’ A hashtag allows people looking for content about a specific subject to find it in one place. But when the pope added a hashtag before ‘‘saints,’’ Twitter automatically added the Saints’ logo, the fleur-de-lis, to his message. It’s part of the social-networking service’s partnership with the NFL.
Suddenly, the Holy Father’s tweet took on a whole new meaning for people in Louisiana who walk the streets asking the great theological questions, including, ‘‘Who dat?’’
Pope Francis (@Pontifex) tweeted: ‘‘Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.’’
Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 13, 2019
The Saints beat the Jaguars 13-6 because Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshaw II finally looked ordinary, because Bridgewater threw a touchdown pass when his team really needed one and because it’s very hard to picture Pope Francis ever tweeting, ‘‘Go, #Jags!’’
The question before us now is whether a papal blessing has legs, even if that blessing is given mistakenly. Will the good wishes the pope bestowed on the Saints extend to their game Sunday at Soldier Field?
I don’t think God cares about who wins or loses football games, but it looks as though the Saints will be getting heavenly help via a technicality here. There are certain areas in which a pope is considered infallible. NFL football games are not one of them. But the thing about social media is that it’s often forever, as many people have found out the hard way. Pope Francis didn’t give a time frame for how long he would thank God for the #Saints, but seeing as how he deals in eternity, let’s just say it doesn’t bode well for the Bears.
This is not to say God has abandoned the Bears. There is no way to look at their improbable victory against the Broncos in Week 2, a sure loss if there ever was one, and not see divine intervention at work. Late in the game, officials called Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb for roughing the passer after he hit quarterback Mitch Trubisky. It was a bizarre call considering Trubisky still had the ball in his hand. The 15-yard penalty gave the Bears, who were down by a point with 24 seconds left, new life. They went on to win 16-14 on a 53-yard field goal by Eddy Pineiro as time expired.
The pope’s tweet is different than a heavenly nudge. The favor he showered the Saints on Sunday was not done on purpose. It’s like when an armored truck overturns, spilling $100 bills all over the highway. A mistake, but try telling that to the people stopping their cars and stuffing cash down their pants. In essence, the Saints are riding high because the popemobile overturned on their front lawn, sending 600,000 novenas their way.
The McCaskeys, the owners of the Bears, couldn’t have seen this coming. They’re good Catholics. If any team deserved a stray papal tweet, it was the Bears, given all the money the McCaskeys have donated to the church through the years. They must be shaking their fists at the sky and screaming the question all of us ask at one time or another: Why?
There’s one possible explanation for Pope Francis’ odd tweet the week before the Saints’ game against the Bears:
He’s still upset the Chicago #Cardinals left town after the 1959 season.